The March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, left thousands dead and caused extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure in northeastern Japan.
"Many individuals and companies from around the world sent donations after the [March 11, 2011 tsunami] disaster. The people who know Japan are worried about the situation as though it is happening to their own country. While the media continues to focus their attention on the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, we hope to report on what is happening to the other areas devastated by the tsunami."
Shinko Tana, the International Rescue Committee's (IRC) Japan adviser, in the Dec 21, 2011 edition of Japan's Fukkou Kamaishi Shimbun newspaper.The Japanese government and people have made tremendous strides working to pull down the old, and build new houses and roads, cleaning vast territories of rubble, smashed cars and even planes and boats – an estimated 23 million tonnes of debris.
Japan approved almost US$50 billion in spending aimed at reconstruction – the biggest building budget since the atomic disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The overall cost of damage is estimated at more than $300 billion.
A year on from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, radiation fears continue to affect residents and food supplies along Japan’s north-east coast. Up to 8.5 tons of radioactive water have leaked from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) claims that most of the leaked water is not radioactive, and has come from a dam. Though the company admitted that some of the water could be radioactive, it stressed that none of it has leaked to the sea.
Officials have tested close to 3,000 fish samples over the past year. Results of a contamination test from new born fish is due out next week.
Workers at the plant say conditions are slowly improving, but many are still struggling to come to terms with what the disaster will mean in the future.
People live in fear, so far, workers at the plant have experienced little, if any effects from the massive doses of radiation to which they have been exposed.
It is only a matter of time before their health will be severely impacted, and within 3-5 years they will begin to see some signs of radiation poisoning.
Residents in the evacuation zone have been forced to leave and told they will never be able to return. There have been a large number of suicides, especially among farmers who depend on the land for their livelihood – land that will never again, in their lifetimes, be cleared for growing agriculture.
Last month Japan's ministry of health, reported the population of 128 million will fall by 30 per cent in the next half-century. The declining and ageing population puts pressure on the government to cope with increasing social-welfare costs, the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear fallout, and pay off Japan’s public debt – at over US$10 trillion – the worst in the industrialised world.
The Japanese fear their government may have backed off from the more important changes needed to guide the country through what its former prime minister, Naoto Kan, called Japan’s worst crisis since the second World World.